Jogging gains in popularity during pandemic

More people discover running for the first time as a free exercise alternative

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sport during COVID-19
A woman and her dog jogging near UBCO Campus in Kelowna.

By Tessa Bartholomeusz

Outdoor jogging has enjoyed a resurgence with public health restrictions closing gyms and sport studios as a result of COVID-19.

The desire to keep fit during COVID has caused some people to try different sports. With loss of income and less money to spend on gyms more people are turning to jogging. Many are running outside, maintaining social distancing and feeling safer in the fresh air rather than inside enclosed small spaces.

Cat Langlois, an elementary school teacher who recently returned to Canada from London, England, always hated jogging.

When London went into lockdown last spring and the city closed its gyms but permitted outdoor activities, Langlois bought her first pair of purple jogging shoes and started running for exercise.

“I feel safer running outside,” Langlois said. “I don’t go to gyms because I find them just a bit dodgy during COVID especially because I am a teacher and I interact with people every day.

“I don’t want to put my grade five students at risk.”

Langlois finds running in Vancouver very accessible and says the city is very attractive for outdoor exercise. She finds the running trails like the Langara Loop, a 2.7 km trail around the Langara Golf course, beautiful. There are also several outdoor oval tracks throughout the city.

Similarly, Joe Bruce, 16, started jogging around May last year when his mixed martial arts gym, the UNYA Dojo on East Hastings street, closed. Since the martials arts gym was free, Bruce said the $6.66 community gym drop-in rates are too expensive for him.

Josh Drake, a Langara kinesiology graduate who works at the Mount Pleasant community centre’s gym, has witnessed a drop in memberships due to the pandemic since it reopened.

Drake said some people don’t feel comfortable in enclosed spaces and although masks are required upon entry, and recommended to be worn walking between stations, they are not required on high cardio machines. “This does make some members nervous and feel at higher risk of catching COVID-19,” Drake said.

Nicknamed “Coach” for having trained over 2,000 runners with 200 qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Carey Nelson is one of the co-owners of Forerunners, a running shoe store on Main street in Vancouver. With 40 years’ experience, he manages running programs for runners at all levels.

“Although there has been a decrease in marathon running groups because the big marathons are not able to maintain social distancing,” Carey said, “we’ve noticed an increase of new runners who are starting out and coming through the store.”

“People who are working from home or studying from home are picking up running.”

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